Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Frames | Treasure Hunt

Dear Foodies,
Under the gorgeous pinkish red skin are delicious, juicy Lychees
I'd hoard these like chipmunks do acorns if I could! If you can still find them at the store, grab a few bags.
third eye ?
Don't these look gorgeous! Rambutans taste just as stunning as the look ( but I like lychees more)
Both these fruits are a perfect summer treat. Its nature's way of giving us a refreshing burst of hydration when we need it the most.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dondakaya Nuvvula Kura| Ivy Gourd with Sesame Seeds Powder

Dear Foodies,

I've written about ivy gourd being one of my favorite veggies in the past and how I'm trying to make up for all the lost opportunities to enjoy this dish. But looking at the recipes list I found just one recipe for it and was surprised they weren't more. The fast is I rarely find fresh, tender ivy gourd here and when I do I gravitate towards my mother's way of cooking them. After all the prep work to get the sliced, her recipe is quick and hits the spot. It's a wonderful side dish with chapati's or rice paired with sambar/rasam/pulusu.

More often that not, I slice them in rounds as they get really tender when cooked that way, almost melting away in your mouth. When sliced lengthwise though you get to enjoy a completely different texture of ivy gourd. It holds its shape over longer cooking times which lends to pilaf style rice dishes. Either way the prep time is probably the most time consuming part of cooking this vegetable. If you take the short-cut and buy the frozen pack instead, you'll just be wasting your time and ingredients.

Dondakaya Nuvvula Kura
Prep time: 15-20mins
Cook time: 20mins
Servings: 3-4 (side)
  • 4 cups - Ivy Gourd, washed & sliced lengthwise
  • 1 Tbsp - Oil
  • 1 tsp - Urad dal & Channa dal
  • 1/4 tsp - Mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp - Cumin seeds
  • 2 - Dried red chillies
  • 6-8  Curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp - Turmeric Powder
  • 1/8 tsp - Asafoetida/Hing/Inguva
  • 2-4 Tbsp - Sesame powder (Nuvvula Podi)
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish
  1. Heat oil in a wide skillet, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad and channa dal. When the seeds begin to pop and the dals turn a deep red, add broken red chillies, curry leaves, asafoetida and turmeric. 
  2. Add sliced ivy gourd next and sprinkle a little salt over them. Cover and steam for 8-10mins until tender, turning them over every few minutes. Sprinkle water if it the veggies look dry.
  3. Once the pieces are tender to touch, sprinkle sesame powder starting with 2 Tbsp and adding more based on taste. Mix well to incorporate the spice mix and cook covered for a few more minutes on low heat.
  4. Transfer to a serving dish with a garnish of cilantro. It goes really well as a side dish for roti's or warm rice.
Note: If you don't have pre-made sesame powder, make a quick version by toasting 1/4 cup sesame seeds, 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, 1-2 red chillies in 1 tsp oil and blend to a fine powder. -- To make the dish more special, add cashews along with the dals.  -- Adjust the amount of salt added in step 2 according to the saltiness of the sesame powder. -- The same cooking method can be used for potlakaya (snake gourd), beerakaya (ridge gourd), vankaya (eggplant) and sorakaya (bottle gourd).

I made tomato rasam and rice to complete the meal and it was a perfect Sunday lunch. Sesame powder adds a earthy flavor to the vegetable and its addictive. When I have a fresh batch of the podi I add it almost every dish I make. Its used as a staple seasoning used in many Andhra dishes and makes vegetables extra special. Fresh farm ripened tomatoes that are in season now are perfect for the rasam and you won't need any tamarind. Its good enough to have as a soup on its own and that's exactly what I did. If I stick to my plan I'll have another recipe for ivy gourd coming up next. Hope you've had a good start to your week.

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